If you are anything like me, you read the news everyday – to stay up to date on the ongoings of the State or even the larger cities. I have noticed a frequent accidents taking the lives of the 25 and under age group as well as the 55 and older age group. Something all these accidents have in common: seatbelt use. Sure, there are other factors; weather, alcohol/drugs, distracted drivers (on the phone, texting, composing and sending e-mails, messing around with the radio, talking to passengers or children, and falling asleep at the wheel.
Part of my job is identifying hazards to people, property, and the environment. From there, emergency managers enlist the help of subject matter experts (Law, Fire, EMS, etc.) to find ways to reduce or eliminate the impact these hazards have on people, property, and the environment. You can too. Here are some examples of both driving and destination.
1. Wear a seatbelt, every passenger every time – make sure car seats and harness are installed correctly, they fit the child, the harness is properly secured, is facing the direction best suited for the car seat, and the seat has never been in an accident – the car seat integrity has been compromised and may not withstand another accident
2. Do not drive under the influence – alcohol, drugs (prescription or otherwise), and/or if exhausted. The above can make focusing on the road difficult, slow reaction time, and may cause driver to over correct. Find a sober driver, change out drivers if driver is fatigued, and wait until your destination to take meds/drink/etc. that can impact driving abilities
3. Check travel routes before leaving for construction, closures, detours, and conditions. Slow down if conditions call for it. Stay calm and try not to escalate road rage. Make arriving at your destination safely your priority, do not pass if it is not safe to do so. If weather conditions are hindering traffic, do not attempt to pass. Pull over and wait the conditions out as needed.
4. Do not drive distracted – Pay attention to your surroundings – watch for motorcycles and other drivers. Put the phone away, have passengers deal with the radio, children, pets, etc. Do not leave kids/pets/the elderly in the car, even with the windows rolled down. Take your keys and lock the doors when you exit the vehicle.
5. When traveling with pets, keep them in a carrier – this can reduce stress and distracting behavior. Bring clean water and food for them, stop for bathroom breaks – even if it is just to stretch their legs. Do not let pets run loose – put them in a harness or collar when taking them outside.
6. If your family and/or pets are outside, check for ticks. Be thorough. When removing ticks, use tweezers to ensure the entire tick is off. If hiking, use bug spray, wear long pants and sleeves. Ticks and mosquitoes can infect humans and animals with: Rocky Mountain Spotted Fever, Lyme Disease, West Nile, to name a few. For a more comprehensive list, here is a link to the CDC Center for Disease Control and Prevention.
7. Make a plan in case your kids get separated from you, make sure they have some way to get a hold of you. A neat idea I have seen popping up is having a “password” so if someone tries to tell a child to go with them because something happened to you, they know if they should go or not. ID people (police, security, etc.) that your child should ask for help from or where to find a help desk or something similar.
8. This upcoming weekend there will be fireworks and other fun activities. Be careful when letting children light fireworks/firecrackers/sparklers, around grills, fires, etc. Have a safe and enjoyable weekend!